The directions had been studied carefully, bags packed and, most importantly, camera batteries were fully charged and sketch books and pencils ready for action. It was a perfect autumn day, clear blue sky, soft drift of a breeze and hardly any traffic on the motorway. Time to head south…
“Shall I plug Siri in?” Jack asks.
“No need” I confidently reply, “I know the way. Straight down the M1, then turn inland onto the Bruxner Highway”. With ideal driving conditions we cruise along the highway.
Suddenly I see the sign for Grafton “This is where we find the Bruxner Highway” I say, and take the turn off ramp.
That is my first mistake….
I keep going. No signs about inland or Bruxner Highway. I start to get a bit worried, I am renowned for being directionally challenged, but it looked so straight forward on the map.
“Ok, I’m putting Siri on” says Jack. “Make a U-turn when possible” says Siri. I IGNORE her…
“There must be a right turn just up ahead”, I confidently say.
Then we come to the major road works. The M1 is being upgrade to a 4 lane motorway and the existing, narrow 2 lane M1 snakes along between heavy construction on both sides. Siri now starts urgently telling us to turn left. “That can’t be right , that way goes back to the ocean and anyway the road works have now blocked all roads turning left “. With cars in convoy in front and behind I have no option but to keep going. Then the river appears on the right hand side. The BIG, wide Richmond river. “Must be a bridge soon”. Then we swoop past a bridge under construction. Oh, oh, not looking good. We start to niggle at each other.
Then suddenly we both see, in the distance, a bridge. A very narrow, hump back bridge. I have no idea where it will take us, but it will be over to the inland side of the Richmond River. With relief we cross it and the road becomes a narrow, unsealed lane. But Siri seems happy with this road and tells us in so many kilometres we will arrive at Casino.
What we need is a coffee, and a toilet stop. So keeping our eyes peeled we keep going with a cloud of dust following behind us. Thankfully we reach the sealed road again and then just look what we found…
A delightful picnic area with a toilet block, BBQ’s, boat ramp and a resident family of magpies. Alongside the Richmond River. Out comes the thermos and the chocolate biscuits.
The catchment area of the Richmond river is estimated at 6,862 square kilometres (2,649 sq mi), which makes it the sixth largest catchment in New South Wales; and its floodplain has an area of over 1,000 square kilometres (390 sq mi).
Feeling much better now we drive slowly on enjoying the interesting countryside. Stopping regularly to take photos.
This is cattle country and there used to be a dairy cattle industry, but judging by all the dilapidated and rusting sheds, that is no longer a major industry.
Now it is beef cattle that dominate the landscape. Time is forgotten as we keep pulling over on this almost deserted road, happily taking photos. Then I notice a ute coming toward us and slowing down. It stops in the middle of the road next to us. “Are you ok?” the ute driver leans over and calls out through the open window. Her dogs jump up at the window, tails wagging.
We share a few minutes pleasantries before she drives off. Isn’t that lovely, that is what country hospitality is. It gave us a warm glow as we travelled on toward Casino.
Casino is an interesting town, known as the “beef capital” of Australia. We stop for a leg stretch and a look around this interesting place. (I will leave Casino for another post.)
Casino is a pleasant country service centre on the Richmond River. It has a large number of interesting historic buildings, particularly in Walker and Barker Streets, which range from Victorian times through to the Art Deco era of the 1930s. Today Casino calls itself ‘The Beef Capital’. It has an official Beef Week which is held each May – the ‘week’ actually lasts for 12 days. With a population of around 12,000 it is a thriving rural centre which relies heavily on the region’s cattle industry combined with the local timber industry. To appreciate the scale of the local cattle industry the Northern Rivers Livestock Exchange is the largest saleyard in northern New South Wales.
It is just over 100 kilometres from Casino to Tenterfield. Destination is getting nearer.
Then we round a bend and over a hill there is Tenterfield.It is golden hour and the autumn leaves shine like beacons. I am happy, this is what I have come here for. But first to find our accommodation. Belvedere House cannot be missed it stands tall in Rouse Street the main street in town.What a beautiful heritage building. Originally a bank. But I will tell you more about our accommodation in another post, because now it is just on sunset and after meeting our hostess, Elizabeth, we wanted to watch the sunset from the turret at the top of the building.
As dusk descended we went for a walk along the main street. It was almost deserted. There was a stillness and old world charm to the buildings. An occasional cattle truck rattled past with its distinct cattle odour drifting by with it. In Bruxner park, in the centre of the street, a tree with blood-red autumn foliage was draped with fairy lights twinkling up the trunk and a man sat engrossed with his mobile phone.I think I am going to fall in love with this place…I am linking this post to Cathy over on the blog “wander.essence” She poses the question “what calls you to a place”. Well for me this road trip was all about seeing the colours of Autumn. If you have a past or future trips you might like to share it with Cathy’s community